Finally!! Week 2 has arrived, and not a minute too soon. We have been waiting seven days to erase the memories of last Sunday, and now we get to take all that frustration out on the poor Kansas City Chiefs, in our house, no less! New Coach, backup quarterback, no Willie Roaf, the Chiefs are in trouble. But they are also very dangerous, and shouldn't be taken lightly. Here are the 5 things I am looking for out of today's game, and if the Broncos can do these things, they will be victorious!
1. Get Off To A Fast Start - Much has been made in the past about Shanahan's scripted plays. The Bronocos coach has the first 15 plays scripted out in an attempt to get out to quick leads. It has worked, for the most part, the Broncos lead the leage in 1st Quarter scoring in teh Shanahan era. When the Broncos struggle it is usually becuase these plays are ineffective, and the Broncos fall behind. Sure, Jake Plummer is not a good "play from behind" quarterback. The Broncos as a team aren't very good in that role either. The entire philosophy of the team harbors around getting out to an early lead then taking the air out of the ball. The defense is fast, but undersized, not set up to dominate physically, or to sustain over long periods of time. The offensive line is quick, but undersized, set up for the zone blocking scheme, and to run the football, not to pass protect. When the Broncos are behind, it usually means they are doing both of the things they don't do very well. Look for Denver to use the energy of the corwd to try and get up early. The running game is the key, but don't be surprised to see a quick shot downfield to Javon Walker early to try and create some quick thunder.
2. Run, Run, Then Run Some More - This is a big key. When I rewatched last Sunday's game there were 3 seperate possessions that the Broncos threw the ball on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd down. Each possession ended in a turnover or punt. The problem is, what Mike Shanahan likes to do through the air isn't a particualr strong suit of Jake Plummer. He is not the most accurate of passers, and is worse in the pocket than when rolling out of it. Team are going to increasingly force Plummer to stay in the pocket, and make the accurate thorw down field. The Broncos need to stay out of 3rd and long situations, and the best way to do that is to run more on 1st and 2nd down. The Broncos were able to average over 6 yards a carry last Sunday, and at times abandoned the run to soon in drives. I look for Shanny to get back to the smashmouth style he likes to play, and to use it to wear down the Chiefs defense. Tatum Bell has the opportunity to have a big day today, and I expect to see Cedric Cobbs at times as well as a nice change of pace back. He was de-activated last week, so it will be interesting to see what happens. Expect the Broncos to have 35-40 carries, minimum. That happens and it's a W.
3. Beware Of The Injured Animal - The nice thing about Trent Green at quarterback was the Broncos knew exactly where he was going to be, in the pocket. Last SUnday showed why Green was never considered a scrambling QB, and after getting blown up by Robert Geathers he may never scramble again. Dammon Huard, on the other hand has some mobility and the Chiefs are going to play hard with their backup QB in the game. My mama always taught me to stay away from a wounded animal, because they are the most dangerous, and teh Chiefs come to town wounded for sure. The Broncos defense needs to avoid the temptation of going after Huard and make him beat them awith his arm by sitting back in coverage. Having more guys in coverage will also allow the D to contain Larry Johnson, and not allow any of the big plays Stephen Jackson was able to make lasat SUnday. Don't think LJ wasn't watching the game tape and drooling just a little bit. The Broncos haven't tackled well yet this year and will need to do a better job against Johnson, who figeres to get the ball 40 times in some way, shape, or form tomorrow.
4. Win The Turnover Battle - Not everything I come up with is going to be revolutionary, but this is very important. The Broncos defense played great last week, for being given a short field so often. There are only so many times you can plya russian roulette before the gun goes off, and the Chiefs have the talent ot convert these types of tunrovers into 6 instead of 3. With Huard in the game the Broncos not only need to create some turnovers, but they need to avoid giving the Chiefs the ball on teh Broncos side of the field. Force the Chiefs go the length of the field to score and it's going to be a long day for the Chiefs offense. I don;t think they will be able to sustain drives over 70-80 yards all game long without something bad happening. Conversly, the Broncos can be deadly if they can start some possessions accross the 50, and I look for the defense to fly to the ball, looking for the tip of strip to get the offense the ball, and some confidence.
5. Pull Their Weight - Rod Smith said it best.
That's all that needs to be said. The Broncos are used to being led by the offense, and to mainstays like Smith, last week's performance was as shocking as it was disappointing. I look at Smith as the pulse of the offense and the team. He expects and demands perfection and led by Smith the Broncos offense will put up some big numbers tomorrow. Nothing is usually needed for the Broncos to get up to play a divisional rival, but with memory of the Ram's game performance fresh in the head of Smith, Plummer and Co. the offense knows they owe the defense. Hey, everyone knows that football is a team game, and you win and lose as a team, but after not showing up last week, and still having the ball late in the 4th quarter with a chance to tie the game, the Broncos offense needs to take advantage of the Crowd, the energy, and the defense to jump out and take command of this game early. Remember, it was a defensive TD in week 2 that jump-started the Broncos 13-3 season. This year, maybe it will be the offense, and a big play early in the game by Javon Walker, or Tony Scheffler that will be the turning point early in the 2006 campaign.
BONUS - Look for the Broncos to employ the infamous "Big Nickel", Sam Brandon, to shadow Tony Gonzalez all over the field. The Broncos have incorporated the safety in formations against Gonzalez and San Diego TE Antonio Gates in recent years, with some success. Both TE's are well below their averages when facing the Broncos, and with Huard in the game, and no real outside threat to worry about(what, Eddie Kennison???) Huard is going to look for Gonzalez early and often.
Guru Predicts -Let's face it, the Broncos love playing the Chiefs, especially at Invesco. In the last 4 meetings in Denver, the Broncos have averaged 440 yards and 35 points per game. Impressive. The Chiefs did look a little more stout defensively against the Bengals, allowing only 236 net yards to Cincinnati, but still losing by 13. That was at Arrowhead, however, and this is the Home Opener for the Broncos. I firmly believe the offense will have a big play early to set the tone, and that the defense's performance in St. Louis is a sign of things to come. The Chiefs will look decent early behind Huard, but if Herm Edwards is anything as a Head Coach, he's very vanilla on offense and the Chiefs will become predictable. Larry Johnson will have some yards, but will never break a big one, and Tony Gonzalez will be held in check by Brandon and the LB's. D.J Williams needs to avoid falling into the opponents sideline over pursuing Johnson, and he will, learning from his over-aggression last weekend. The Broncos learned an early lesson, and won;t come out flat against a Division opponent at home. I like the Broncos, ealr yand often, to get their first win of the year --
DENVER 31 - KANSAS CITY 13